Meyerbeer, Giacomo

Meyerbeer, Giacomo a very noted German composer of music, was born in Berlin September 5, 1794, and was of Jewish descent. At the age of nine years he was regarded as a masterly pianist in a city full of cultivated musicians, and at ten he commenced his career as a composer, producing many songs and pieces for the piano-forte, which excited the wonder and admiration of his friends by their spirit and originality. At fifteen he was placed under the tuition of abbe Vogler, who had established a celebrated school of composition in the city of Darmstadt. Here, under the abbe's instruction, young Meyerbeer composed a quantity of classic and elaborate sacred music in the severest scholastic style of his master, all of which, however, is lost to the world, as the composer, when his ideas became more matured, did not care to preserve it. One of these compositions, however, brought him into notoriety: it was an oratorio bearing the title God and Nature, and was performed in the presence of the grand-duke of Darmstadt, gaining for its author the distinction of being appointed composer to the court. When Meyerbeer was eighteen, his first dramatic piece, Jephthah's Daughter, was performed at Munich. Though intended for the stage, it was more of an oratorio than an opera; but on account of its severe style, and the evident inattention to the minor attractions of melody, it was not received in a flattering manner by the Bavarian public. After a series of professional disappointments, his first success was achieved at Padua in 1818, in the performance of Romilde Costanza, which, together with Semiramide,

produced at Turin in 1819, and Emnma di Resburgo, at Venice in 1820, firmly established the composer's reputation. In 1831 he gave to the public Robert the Devil. His subsequent works are operatic. He died May 2, 1864. See L. de Lomenie, M. Meyerbeer, par un Homme de Rien (1849); De Bury, Meyerbeer et son temps (1865); Mentel, Meyerbeer, s. Leben u. Werke (1868).

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